A New PnP Game: UKRAINIAN CRISIS

EDIT, 22 December 2016:

Ukrainian Crisis will be published by Hollandspiele in March 2017, in slightly different and boxed format. This print-and-play version will remain available.

Coming soon from Hollandspiele: Ukrainian Crisis and The Little War!

EDIT, 2 December 2015:

You’ve probably come here for the Ukrainian Crisis game.

The latest files for the game are here:

uacr-rls-20 (The latest rules. The game now concentrates specifically on the first 6 months of the crisis, from Yanukovytch’s departure in late February 2014 to the adoption of the first Minsk Protocol in September. This was the period in which a large and overt Russian military intervention might have taken place. Important changes to the game include: game is lengthened to 8 turns, and either player can declare a Combat turn instead of there being a pre-invasion and invasion phase of the game. This gives players a bit more time to fill out strategies, and fits with the stop-and-start nature of how the crisis played out militarily. Following on from this, the map has been revised slightly and the cards also have additional or changed functions.)

uacr-cds-20 (latest cards, to match the longer length of the game and some slight revisions to event cards)

UA crisis map1722-1 (latest version of the map with revised point values for Ukrainian ethnic zones)

UA_Crisis_ctrs2 (game counters, same as always; cut off and throw away the right-hand portion as the rules it refers to have been replaced)

Material is copyright 2014-2015 Brian Train.

Enjoy!

END EDIT

Well, it took all of 48 hours but I have created a new game, from scratch, on the current Ukraine-Russia crisis.

It is a fairly simple “pol-mil” game for two players that concentrates on the buildup and resolution of threatened territorial annexation by Russia.
An overt military invasion of Eastern Ukraine is possible but not necessary for the Russian player to win the game. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian player desperately mobilizes to defend himself and build a coalition of allies to support him.

And you can have a copy, free to download!
You’ll have to print out the bits and make the game yourself, though.

Download the files found at the links here (material copyright 2014 Brian Train):

UA crisis map12

UA Crisis ctrs13

UA Crisis cards

ua-crisis-rules-1111

ua-crisis-rules-12 (replacement rules from June 2014)

Note that I originally posted this on the evening of March 16, 2014, just hours after the Crimean people voted massively to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Or something like that.
Will this be the end of the crisis?
Or will Vladimir Putin keep going and try to intervene in the rest of Ukraine?

Please leave a comment that you have downloaded the game, and come back later to tell me what you thought of it, and see if there are additions or changes… this is obviously a work in progress, and as the wonks say “a tool to explore the problem space”. There will be changes and updates, and I shall note them below.

Thanks for your interest!

Brian Train

ETA:
Monday: made corrections to rules re diplomacy, truces, and start of Invasion phase, and added some examples to amplify terse wording. Uploaded a new map that tunes VP values for areas, adds a Sevastopol enclave and makes all the reds in the Russian ethnic Zone the same shade.

Wednesday: Polished rules (now version 1.1) and amplified/improved non-military options for players, so a straightforward military invasion is no longer the obvious option and framework for play of the game. A few changes to game’s initial parameters. Corrected small reminder chart under Card Matrix.

Friday: Neal Durando made an excellent suggestion for terminology, substituting the word “Information” for “Economic” in that area of the Card Matrix. This captures much better the raft of associated non-military, non-striped pants brigade options that I had in mind, which includes things like economic threats, minior sanctions against individuals, boycotts and pursuing other deals – but also the domain of “informational activities” that informs and affects the situation: rumours, the well-timed interview or Youtube video, cyber-shenanigans, other propaganda, in short, who is controlling the Narrative… and also intelligence, the incoming part of the action. Hence the options in this area are related to Prestige. I had all this in my head but couldn’t at the time think of a better word for it than “Economic”, it was bugging me. So consider the word replaced by “Information”, but I am not going to go back and change the rules and charts right now (later – I did).

Sunday 30 March: Playtesting showed a few kinks and necessary tunes in the combat and diplomatic sections, these have been addressed. Airfields added to Kiev and Odessa to allow the Ukrainian parachute brigade to move.

Monday 21 April: for those who don’t want to deal with the papercrafting aspect of things, a VASSAL module for this game is here! https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/vassal-module-for-ukrainian-crisis/
Many thanks to the dynamic Martin Hogan, who did a great job very quickly.

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About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

64 Responses to A New PnP Game: UKRAINIAN CRISIS

  1. NJames says:

    Just downloaded it. Thanks for making this available.

  2. Lancer4321 says:

    Another “Train Game!” How can you lose?
    Thanks for posting, Brian.

  3. sivaD ddoT says:

    Just d/l as well. How timely!!

    • brtrain says:

      Well, I did it all in 48 hours over the weekend of the Crimean referencdum as the situation was changing eery few hours. No overt Russian invasion – yet – so I’m still half wrong, or half right…wish I knew which half was which.

  4. Michael says:

    Very interesting. I’ll have a look at it while travelling later this week. Thanks for doing this.

  5. Major Tom says:

    Thanks Brian – downloaded by the Defence Academy of the UK…

  6. Hi Brian

    Here’s an article that maybe you can use in your design:

    Crimean Yihad?
    http://rt.com/op-edge/crimea-terrorism-saudi-tatars-050/

    • brtrain says:

      Hi Javier, thanks for th link. Think this might fall under the description of a spontaneous mobilization of an irregular Ukrainian (or at least anti-Russian) unit, which is one of the random events. But it’s an interesting development, for sure.

  7. Kim Meints says:

    Brian
    Looks good my friend and I’ll get it printed out this week.

  8. NJames says:

    I’m not clear about the ethnic zones on the map. There seem to be four colors. These all seem distinct: (1) Poltavska, (2) Khirovoradska, (3) Dnipropetrovska, (4) Donetska.

    • brtrain says:

      Hi, I have uploaded a map that makes all the red zones on the map the same shade. This is the Russian Ethnic Zone. Everything coloured like Poltavs’ka is the Ukrainian Ethnic Zone.

  9. ebecollong says:

    Just downloaded the game. Very timely and interesting. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks much, Brian.

  10. Rex Brynen says:

    If you come across any other efforts to game the crisis, let me know so I can update the list at PAXsims:
    http://paxsims.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/gaming-the-crisis-in-the-ukraine/

  11. Fred Simkin says:

    As was said above timely. Thank you

  12. Bruce Costello says:

    Brilliant, Brian! Had I known you had already done this, I wouldn’t have put the time into Millenium Wars Ukraine and a current AAR I’m doing on a modified version. Hope to see some AAR’s on this little gem in “ALL AARS – ALL THE TIME” presently! 😉 – BC

    • brtrain says:

      Thanks Bruce! I’m always glad to waste other people’s time, even if they don’t know it. Please double-check that you have the latest components. Thanks for trying it out!

  13. jeffro says:

    This is great. Thanks for doing this. (Downloaded!)

  14. Tom Grant says:

    The first thing I did, after downloading the game components, was to skip ahead in the rulebook to find the victory conditions. Since there’s a fair amount of debate over what Putin is really trying to do, I was very curious how you determined a winning condition for the game. Prestige seems like a very good way of avoiding the problem altogether. Whatever Putin’s endgame, both sides in this conflict will need prestige and influence to “win,” in the longer time scale than the game covers. Great job!

    • brtrain says:

      Thanks Tom, I thought you would skip ahead to the good part…. B~)
      “Prestige” means a lot more than international respect, nor is it entirely the National Will like mechanics I have used in some of my game designs. I couldn’t think of a better word for the catchall concept, but when one side is reduced to zero Prestige, that means it has accepted the situation, the crisis de-escalates and the game ends.
      We’re not out of the woods yet, but if the present situation (Crimea effectively Russian, Ukrainian troops peacefully withdrawing) and rhetoric continues to cool down, the game-analogous situation would be a couple of Strategic Rounds where both sides mobilize some units, pro-Russian irregulars show up in the Crimea, Ukrainian efforts to build a strong coalition fail, Ukrainian Prestige is reduced to 0 by Russian moves, and the game ends with Russia in effective posession of the Crimea (though this is not counted in the Victory Points, since there was no actual invasion.
      Or something like that.

  15. Elliott Segal says:

    What do the special forces do? They can’t fight and they can’t hold provinces for victory purposes?

    • brtrain says:

      Read 6.12. Special Forces units can deploy into any area on the map, and a pro-Russian Irregular unit can be deployed in any area in the pro-Russian ethnic zone that contains a Special Forces unit. This can be done in the pre-Invasion phase.
      This is how the game models those mysterious Russian-speaking, insignia-less, but definitely not Russian Army troops who have been showing up here and there – although it’s more than just that; read the Designer’s notes. (20 March version).

  16. Pingback: Blog Watch: Brian Train’s Ukranian Crisis, Asymetrical Information Woes, and Missing Flanking Bonuses | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

  17. Pingback: Ukrainian Crisis: The Game | Cirsova

  18. zoebrain says:

    Just downloaded – reading rules now.
    May I suggest a mechanic borrowed from SPI’s game “World War 3”.

    Additional components:
    Can of lighter fluid.
    Box of Matches
    Putin Goes Nuts card

    Optional Rule: if Russian prestige goes to 0 and the “Putin goes Nuts” card is drawn, douse map in lighter fluid and apply lit match to simulate use of nuclear weapons on Ukraine and NATO targets, and consequent retaliation.

  19. John Curry says:

    Just downloaded it. History of Wargaming Project

  20. Excellent, Brian!

  21. Jan Hope says:

    I’ve been heavily engaged in refighting the Seven Years War and just downloaded this one. Looking forward to delving into it later today. Thanks very much for providing this to all of us to help us study current events. Also, A Distant Plain is right up there in the top 2 of my all time favorite games, and I’ve been playing since the old Avalon Hill U-Boat game in 1960, some days Paths of Glory is Number 1, and some days, A Distant Plain is Number 1!

    • brtrain says:

      Thanks a lot Jan! Though after playing A Distant Plain and this game, you just might want to head back to the relatively civilized and genteel 18th Century….

  22. Games are such wonderful tools to help analysis.

    So thanks again for producing the game, most interesting.

  23. Martin Hogan says:

    Hi Brian, thanks for making this game. I was just thinking about how you would turn this into a game – only to see that you have already done so!

    To facilitate play, I was thinking of creating a VASSAL module for it. Would you be supportive of the idea?

    • brtrain says:

      Martin, I am halfway through making a VASSAL module for the game because I wanted to learn how to make such a thing, even though I have never played a game on VASSAL.
      But my head is cement when it comes to learning things like this, and I haven’t had the time to finish.
      I just can’t see how some guys can make a complete module within hours.
      Anyway, I would be supportive of the idea of you doing it, just so it could be done in good time for others to use, but also on the condition that you teach me how you did it!
      I can send you the half-done module if that helps you to get started (so far, map and counters defined).

      • Martin Hogan says:

        Brian, that’s a deal. I have accumulated a good amount of experience lately that I am happy to put to good use and share. Can you see my email address? If not, I’ll PM you on BGG with it.
        Let’s roll!

  24. This looks great, Brian. Thanks for sharing. I’ll plan to use this next school year as a part of our Great Power Politics-Ukraine unit.

    • brtrain says:

      brtrain says:
      May 9, 2014 at 13:21
      I hope this will be useful to you Charles! I don’t know if the game mechanics and die rolling would be too tedious for the kids, but it digests down to a page or so of charts so that ought not to be too much. Perhaps consider using the deck of ordinary playing cards variation suggested in the optional rules, and save the dice for combat.
      Of course by next year the crisis will be over, and the game might look completely ridiculous as a way to model what actually happened… but it’s important for people to consider that war games can (and in my view should) incorporate a lot of things other than actual kinetic combat..
      Woudl be interested to know your experiences!

      • brtrain says:

        I jsut noticed I did not reply to you, it was just a separate comment. I do suggest you use the playing cards, or have a look at the Victory Point Games edition which is coming out – I don’t know when, a few months I suppose – which uses all six-sided dice.

  25. brtrain says:

    I hope this will be useful to you Charles! I don’t know if the game mechanics and die rolling would be too tedious for the kids, but it digests down to a page or so of charts so that ought not to be too much. Perhaps consider using the deck of ordinary playing cards variation suggested in the optional rules, and save the dice for combat.
    Of course by next year the crisis will be over, and the game might look completely ridiculous as a way to model what actually happened… but it’s important for people to consider that war games can (and in my view should) incorporate a lot of things other than actual kinetic combat..
    Woudl be interested to know your experiences!

  26. Jose Carlos says:

    Hello. I downloaded just now and I will try the game in next Saturday. Thanks for the chance of know your game. I live on Brazil. Tomorrow I will see the match: RUSSIA X ALGERIA no World Soccer Cup. 🙂

  27. neilspry says:

    Hi Brian

    I see Ukrainian Crisis is to be published by VPG – congratulations. Are you able to say what differences there will be in the VPG version apart from component quality.

    Regards
    Neil

    • Brian Train says:

      Hello Neil, yes the cat is out of the bag (I had been holding my tongue on this) and I will make a new post on it shortly. Besides improvement in the physical components, the game no longer uses d4 and d12, we worked out a way to use just d6 (actually it was an approach I had initially briefly considered and rejected when designing the game, but Alan insisted) so they can be included with the game, that required a couple of changes in processes. Also, a few corrections to the OOB to match what has been identified as actually deployed over the course of the crisis – which now appears to be winding down. Anyway, more later….

  28. X says:

    Hi Brian,

    So I’ve been very interested in this conflict and found your game very interesting and fun. I’m making a decent sized update to the rules (4 pages worth) at them moment and was wondering if you’d like to take a look at them and/or if you know of a good place to post them for anyone else who may want to try them. Let me know, thanks!

    • brtrain says:

      I just noticed that I did not reply to you, just put the following as a separate comment. I don’t care for wordpress much. my email is brian.train(at)gmail.com

      Four pages, huh? That’s over half the length of the original rules! what could I have done wrong?
      Anyway, I would be pleased to look at them – I may agree with your variants, or not – and I’ve already made some changes in preparing the game for its Victory Point games edition. In any event I encourage you to post them to the game’s Boardgamegeek entry at http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/157573/ukrainian-crisis

      Thanks!

  29. Brian Train says:

    Four pages, huh? That’s over half the length of the original rules! what could I have done wrong?
    Anyway, I would be pleased to look at them – I may agree with your variants, or not – and I’ve already made some changes in preparing the game for its Victory Point games edition. In any event I encourage you to post them to the game’s Boardgamegeek entry at http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/157573/ukrainian-crisis

    Thanks!

  30. Hi, just downloaded the game and trying to figure it out now 🙂

    • brtrain says:

      I hoope you enjoy it! Remember it was designed six months ago, when things looked very different, and the context was that an overt military invasion looked likely. Now, not so much. The game was never meant to be predictive, just an exploration of the dynamics involved in the problem.
      If you don’t like all the dice throwing I suggest you use the deck of ordinary playing cards option, and save the dice for combat.

  31. X says:

    Hi Brian,

    I’m not sure if you’ll remember me (if you don’t just look at the comment above), but I’m the guy who said he was working on a 4 page update to Ukrainian Crisis. Well, It’s only been months, but I finally finished it! 😀 It’s 5 and a half pages plus two pages of units, event cards, and a new map. I’ve uploaded the two files here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/157573/ukrainian-crisis . It doesn’t look like they went live right away, so you may have to wait a bit. It should be considered an expansion to the original game rather than a revision of it. I made some small tweaks to some parts of the original rules, but besides those everything else is meant to add on to the game to make it more similar to the current conditions in Ukraine. By that I mean so that it’s easier for the Russians to start an insurgency in Ukraine without causing an invasion. Let me know what you think.

  32. brtrain says:

    Hi “X”:
    They finally uploaded your files to BGG.com.
    This is quite a bit more than I originally had in mind for the game, based on information that was not available at the time, or events that had not occurred.
    (If that sounds defensive, it’s not meant to be – just an acknowledgement that time progresses in one direction only.)
    Good job!
    Some interesting ideas you’ve worked in there.
    Thanks for building onto the game.

    Brian

  33. ralphey says:

    Downloaded, and hope to print tomorrow!

  34. Pingback: Coming soon from Hollandspiele: Ukrainian Crisis and The Little War! | brtrain

  35. Pingback: Interview with Brian Train Designer of The Little War & Ukrainian Crisis Two Game Box from Hollandspiele – The Players' Aid

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